Thus Spake Zuska

This Is So Easy…

From the Ask a Science Blogger feature…The 2006 Nobel Laureates will be announced on Monday, October 2. Any early guesses as to who this year’s honorees will be?…

I’m thinking…I’m thinking…yes, it’s coming to me…the winners will be…

A bunch of guys.

Comments

  1. #1 venky
    October 3, 2006

    Way to go to demean the achievements of hard-working and intelligent scientists.

  2. #2 Zuska
    October 3, 2006

    Exactly how does it demean them? Are you implying that the only reason they got their Nobel is because they are men?

    Clearly the dudes who are winning have done some spiffy science. Nobody can say they didn’t.

    But…is anybody surprised that the Nobel committee was unable to find any Nobel-worthy women in physics? in physiology or medicine? And please don’t try to tell me there aren’t any women doing Nobel-worthy work, certainly not in the physiology-or-medicine category, and I doubt very much if there aren’t at least a few Nobel-worthy women in physics.

    So, yeah, this was easy to predict. And I will fall off my chair tomorrow if the Nobel in chemistry goes to anybody but men. That goes double if it’s anybody but white men, because by my count, so far we’ve got two Nobels and four white men.

    I’m just making note of reality. It’s a bitch, isn’t it, when the women won’t just listen and applaud and say how great the men are and cheer from the sidelines. All I’ve done is withhold my applause, and you accuse me of demeaning the Nobel prize winners. If withholding the applause of one disabled science blogger in Pennsylvania demeans their accomplishment, then it was pretty damn flimsy to begin with. But there you have it. Men – all men – depend upon women to prop up their glory. I must revere the Nobel winners so that Venky may bask in their reflected glory.

    Screw that. I’m going out to work in the garden.

  3. #3 Bill Hooker
    October 3, 2006

    I’m still quietly betting on Elizabeth Blackburn and telomerase, especially after this year’s Lasker.

  4. #4 Greg
    October 3, 2006

    I too wonder why Vanky is so desperate to obtain expressions of respect from so obviously a biased and hostile woman.

  5. #5 venky
    October 4, 2006

    It demeans them because for you they won because they are white men and not because of anything significant that they have contributed to the advancement of human knowledge.

    In fact you imply that there are other people who have done better research but have not won since they are not “white men.”

  6. #6 Absinthe
    October 4, 2006

    Yeah Zuska, Venky has a point. You are just bitter and hostile because obviously white men are superior to women and minorities, therefore they totally deserve to win all the top prizes in science. You are just a bitter feminist bitch who likes to demean the accomplishments of the superior white guys, and you stupidly advocate that the lesser females and minorities should win a top prize at least once in a while, when obviously their work is inferior to anything a white guy could accomplish. You probably don’t shave your legs or pits, don’t wear a bra, and haven’t been laid in decades either. Because you a such a bitter man-hater.

    Not.

    Venky, you obviously hate everything Zuska has to say, so why to you cotinually bother to read her blog (and worse yet, continually add stupid comments). Why don’t you go start your own “hostile feminist bashing” blog, then you and all your other white male supremicist buddies can have a great time talking to yourselves.

  7. #7 Mecha
    October 4, 2006

    Venky, seriously. Take a breath and a step back and look at the situation.

    1) Look at the Nobel winners in the sciences (http://almaz.com/nobel/) (Not Literature or Peace, women have actually won those recently.) See how they’re all men (as far as I can read their names), including this year’s? Therefore, Zuska’s statement is statistically likely on its own, nevermind the social implications.

    2) Zuska replied to you, and you pretty much ignored what she actually said. There is more than one piece of Nobel-worthy work in the world at any one time in any one field, and as such the belief that there are women who deserve it (as Zuska says she does) does not also mean there aren’t men who deserve it (as Zuska says some do) or vice versa. I don’t believe Zuska’s post read, ‘All the Nobel winners do crap science because they’re men.’ If it did, quote that part to the rest of us?

    Here’s an important distinction that may guide you in the future: Pointing out that the people in power/get awards/etc are men does not say inherently that they aren’t competent (as you so clearly think she believes in all cases.) (This could be shortened to ‘Patriarchy != Men Suck’, but I wanted to make it clearer.) What it does say is that there is a strange inequity visible, that the power structure/norms/whatever supports them to a greater degree than women are.

    A strong point here is that women are doing worthy science too, but if you looked at the Nobel’s, you’d never know it. Weird, huh? You’d think that, you know, 50%ish of the world’s population could manage to eek out a representative in the sciences, well, if the world were equal. I mean, unless you’re going to try to say that women can’t do Nobel science. Was it a sarcastic post? Yes (and so was that last sentence.) Welcome to sarcasm as part of social commentary and criticism. There’s a long and storied tradition of it. Especially when it’s short.

    You’re not doing anyone any favors by pithy comments like your first one. Especially to what was not unlike a 10 second sarcastic aside in a conversation. It’s sorta funny how this has played out exactly how that conversation would in real life, had you made the same protest: the original commenter laying down a large line of justification, and you… doing nothing to support your case but be annoyed that they jabbed at a weak spot in anyone’s view of equality in the world. When you want to pick a fight, bring some ammunition.

    -Mecha

  8. #8 venky
    October 4, 2006

    To Absinthe:

    1. When did I say that “white men are superior to women and minoritites”? I have implied that “some white men are not necessarily inferior to all women and all minorities and hence do deserve to win prizes.” There are of course some white men who are inferior to some women and some minorities and of course I am not ruling out the possibility of there being some white men who are inferior to all women and minorities, though I am sure that the white men in the last categories are not in the running for the Nobel Prizes.

    2. As for Zuska not wearing bras or not shaving her armpits or legs thats her choice. Why should I hate her for that? As for not getting laid, I frankly I have no idea about that nor any opinion. Its her personal life.

    3. Its much more fun to comment. Blogging I think takes too much commitment something which I cannot give. On that note I should thank all the bloggers whom I read (including Zuska) for giving me stuff to think about apart from work. I don’t hate everything that Zuska says, I just disagree with wuite a bit of what she says.

    To Mecha:

    1. Regarding the Nobel Prize I think that now it has basically become a sort of a lifetime achievement award. I looked through the past-6-year winners and none of them was below 50 years of age and most above 55 and many above 60. Considering that women have started coming into science mostly in the 80s I think more women will start winning from the 2010s, and that is why we see few women winning (actually I think none). What we need is a sort of the Field’s medal for the sciences where there is an age cutoff. I think if something like that is done, quite a few women will get the awards.

    2. A lot of people miss out on the Nobel Prize and you know what gender is not the defining characteristic. To give you an example the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for 2002 was given to Koichi Tanaka and John Fenn for mass spec while ignoring Franz Hillenkamp and Michael Karas (both of whom inconveniently for Zuska and Absinthe are white men). To give you another example George Sudarshan missed out on the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics given to Glauber and before anyone says that Sudarshan is not white, he is Indian and to my knowledge Indians are not treated as minorities in this country.

    3. Zuska didn’t say ‘All the Nobel winners do crap science because they’re men.’ and I have never said that she did. I took issue that instead of praising the winners for the science they did she found it more fit to be snarky.

    4. As for the pithiness and the sarcasm of my posts I would like to refer you to the original blog post. Is it really very different from what I wrote subsequently?

  9. #9 Mecha
    October 4, 2006

    Venky… your reply is very strange. In response to 2, nobody said gender was the, uh, defining characteristic. It is, however, statistically relevant and indicitive of the power structure (as per your 1, however, it may indeed be more indicitive of the ‘older’ power structure that could be changing, I am not familiar with the work in the fields.) Since that sort of thing is Zuska’s focus, she, well, commented. No surprise there.

    In response to 3, I quote you directly: “It demeans them because for you they won because they are white men and not because of anything significant that they have contributed to the advancement of human knowledge.” You are trying to say that Zuska believe it’s all about male, not about science, and you’re wrong, and have no actual evidence for it. You are only supporting the idea that ‘You have to cheer the men or else you hate them’ that she mocks in her reply post, by holding to your view with no evidence. Is pointing out the inequality going to make society fall over or something, just because she didn’t surround it with effusive praise?

    And as to 4: As I said. Don’t come to an argument without ammo. You have yet to even come close to ‘proving’ that Zuska means anything that you have said she means from her words. Zuska’s strict observation, however, has been supported by you and others. So what are you trying to get at by _telling_ her she’s demeaning them in a derisive manner, when you have yet to supply support for her demeaning them?

    -Mecha

  10. #10 venky
    October 4, 2006

    Mecha said

    “Venky… your reply is very strange. In response to 2, nobody said gender was the, uh, defining characteristic.”

    Lets go back to what Zuska said

    “A bunch of guys.”

    I think you would also agree with me that guys = male gender and obviously Zuska defined the prize winning scientists only by their gender and not by their achievements.

    Mecha said

    “…it may indeed be more indicitive of the ‘older’ power structure that could be changing,…”

    Well the Nobel Prize is not given in a vaccum. If research earlier was dominated by white men they would obviously win the prize. After all the Nobel Prize is not an affirmative action Prize. And obviously since it awards “PAST” achievements it will always be a reflection of a slightly dated scientific society. It is a mirror and not a torchlight which would illuminate future scientific society. This is not the fault of the Nobel Prize or the committees which award it. As I said as the number of women in science increase the proportion of awards given to them will also increase.

    Mecha said

    “You are trying to say that Zuska believe it’s all about male, not about science, and you’re wrong, and have no actual evidence for it.”

    Really? Have you not read the original post? (I mean no offense and if are still offended I apologise)

    She does not mention anything about the science done by the people who may win and why the science is important enough to merit the win. She just says one thing regarding the winners and let me cut-and-paste it again; “A bunch of guys.” Straight from the horse’s mouth. What more evidence do you want?

    And please tell me where I have supported the idea that “You have to cheer the men or else you hate them” All I expect from her and people like her (and frankly everybody else) is to appreciate the science.

  11. #11 bsci
    October 4, 2006

    I think the relevant list is:
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/women.html

    The fact that many more men receive it than women is not shocking considering the historical biases, but the fact that not a single women has won a nobel in Chemistry or Physics since 1964 is astounding. This is amazing considering that many are awarded to more than one person. (And of the 5 in those fields awarded to women, two went to Marie Curie) While things are clearly better now, it makes you wonder if science used to actually be slightly more open in some ways a century ago or if Curie was just too amazing to be ignored.

    Physiology seems reasonably represented with 6 since 1977 (not great, but women aren’t being ignored).

    And if you there science is bad, there is not a single women who has ever received a Nobel prize in economics.

  12. #12 E. Powers
    October 4, 2006

    Geez, we are in need of some constructive dialouge here not finger pointing and ad hominem attacks. Venky just stepped into a trap set by Zuska. Really, when i read her post I was like “Yeah, and your point?”. Well, according to her comment she really didn’t have a point, she was just making an “observation”. However, when trying to read between the lines to discover a point, one logical conclusion would be that Zuska thinks that the Nobel awards are biased against women. Actually, the only category for this post IS: “Sexual discrimination”.

    Now maybe there is a point, Zuska, other than just the observation. I appreciate your take on the sexual lopsidedness in the sciences. I think you always have great points and are right on. However, you do occasionally do the bait-and-hook, with antagonistic posts, followed by clear, concise points in your comments, followed by “why so defensive?” remarks at other commenters.

    Maybe its to get the attention of potential web surfers. It sure got mine, and I believe I am more enlightened after reading her posts (however it always helps to scroll through the comments).

    But lighten up. I dont think Venky is a feminist hater.

  13. #13 Mecha
    October 4, 2006

    Venky, you are really torturing the english language to get your interpretation. Zuska’s original post can be shortened and rephrased, with no loss of meaning, as, ‘I’m going to guess that the winners of the Nobel Prize will all be male.’ Does that anywhere NEAR imply they are undeserving? Or stupid? Or anything negative about the winners all? No. No. And NO. It is a statement about the _patriarchy_ and _the general scientific society_ which you are not arguing with at all, and yet you have gone into telling Zuska what she thinks. Badly. And in doing so, have told us exactly what you think. Your evidence that she demeans hard-working scientists is ‘She does not mention anything about the science done by the people who may win and why the science is important enough to merit the win.’. That is where you have supported the idea that “You have to cheer the men on or unless you hate them.” Tada. Dead. On. Proof. That’s it. Zuska had you pegged from the beginning of this discussion. You’re too busy whining about how she’s not respecting them to realize that the discussion wasn’t about the specific unnamed (at the point of the post) winners. It was about the power structure.

    I was protesting, before you twisted my words, that you called being male a ‘defining characteristic’ in Zuska’s mind. To be a defining characteristic, it must be a characteristic… that defines it. And the Nobel Prize is not ‘a prize for men.’ It’s a prize for _scientific achievement_. She did not _say_ it was a prize for men. She did not say that the Nobel Prize _had_ to be given to men. She _predicted_, based on her beliefs and view of the world, that the winners would _all be male_. And she was right. Why do you keep twisting that?

    And stuff your ‘have you read the original post’ thing, Venky. Did YOU read the original post? You’ve created ‘Zuska insults all male scientists’ achievements’ out of saying that the Nobel Winners would be ‘A bunch of guys’ That’s quite a feat. They WERE a Bunch of Guys. She was correct! How dare she be… correct? What is your problem in reading that?

    She does not have to mention the scientists (especially since they _weren’t chosen yet_.) She isn’t talking about their merits. That’s a different discussion. Not every discussion has to be about what you want it to be about. This was a very short discussion is about the male power structure an dhow it relates to science. That’s it.

    And that is your problem in the whole. You want Zuska to hedge. To sspend a paragraph talking about how great the nobel winning scientists are going to be, before pointing out, ‘Oh, by the way, also, all male, note the inequality.’ Why? What point does that give?

    The question was ‘Who’s gonna win?’ The answer is ‘A bunch of guys.’ Sarcastic, but _dead on correct_, and pointing towards the inequality. That. Was. The. Point. She does not have to address your complaint in her original post. And yet, you still talk. And annoy. And bring almost no light to the conversation,, with the exception of your comment about how Nobels may be more of a lifetime achievement award, thereby biasing it, which is a reasonable analysis, and not at all like your first whine that she was denegrating science and scientists.

    We all know Nobel Scientists generally do great work. This isn’t a blog about Nobel Scientists. Go check the about box, it’ll tell you what this blog is about. (Hint: Inequality.) I am very tired of explaining this idea. Take the steps back I recommended. Read what she wrote for real this time. Without scribbling in ‘who don’t deserve it.’ after what she actually said.

    -Mecha

  14. #14 venky
    October 4, 2006

    Mecha:

    And how am I torturing the English language? My interpretation is straightforward. Unfortunately you are undergoing verbal contortions to mischaracterize me.

    Lets see what the question was

    Q. The 2006 Nobel Laureates will be announced on Monday, October 2. Any early guesses as to who this year’s honorees will be?

    The question sobviously expects an answer the structure of which loosely will be the guesses followed by the science that they did and why that science deserves a prize.

    Did we get an answer like that? No. We got an answer that the winners will be men, thereby implying that science is irrelevant, it is what is between your legs that counts.

    To answer your questions:

    Q. Does that anywhere NEAR imply they are undeserving?
    A. Yes

    Q. Or stupid?
    A. Not stupid but atleast not as intelligent and deserving as minorities and women.

    Q. Or anything negative about the winners all?
    A. Yes. That it is not your brain that counts but your penis (preferably white).

    You are right. I am not arguing that society through a long time has between discriminatory against women but that does not mean that men who do good research and deserve prizes should not get them (or if they get them it is because they have penises).

    You said

    “Your evidence that she demeans hard-working scientists is ‘She does not mention anything about the science done by the people who may win and why the science is important enough to merit the win.’.”

    Well obviously if she did not intend to demean them she would also mention the research they have done and why in her opinion it deserves a prize. But no. For her they won only because they have penises.

    You said

    “That is where you have supported the idea that “You have to cheer the men on or unless you hate them.” Tada. Dead. On. Proof.”

    I have not said that nor do I subscribe to that. Ironically, if you have ever visited Chad’s blog, Zuska made the same accusation namely “You have to cheer the women on or unless you hate them”.

    You said

    “You’re too busy whining about how she’s not respecting them to realize that the discussion wasn’t about the specific unnamed (at the point of the post) winners. It was about the power structure.”

    Unfortunately for you the Ask-a-scienceblogger question was not about the power structure, it was about the science. Which she and may I also say you have failed to answer (maybe you just don’t want to).

    You said

    “I was protesting, before you twisted my words, that you called being male a ‘defining characteristic’ in Zuska’s mind. To be a defining characteristic, it must be a characteristic… that defines it.”

    You sure you don’t want to rephrase that? How is being male not a defining characteristic?

    “And the Nobel Prize is not ‘a prize for men.’ It’s a prize for _scientific achievement_.”

    And I have heard no mention about scientific achievement from either you or Zuska. It is she who has harped on the fact (which is irrelevant) of the maleness of the winners.

    “She _predicted_, based on her beliefs and view of the world, that the winners would _all be male_.”

    Which was not the question (It didn’t ask responders to guess the gender of the winner). As I have pointed out above, the question demanded an answer grounded in science and not in sarcasm and snarkiness.

    “And stuff your ‘have you read the original post’ thing, Venky. Did YOU read the original post?”

    Yes. Let me cut-and-paste it for you again

    ” I’m thinking…I’m thinking…yes, it’s coming to me…the winners will be…

    A bunch of guys. ”

    I don’t know if you have ever analysed text at any level but could you give me a good answer why she used all the ellipses? And why the snarky demeanour in pretending to gaze in a crystal-ball? Why not just say plainly as you have suggested ” ‘I’m going to guess that the winners of the Nobel Prize will all be male.’ ”

    “She was correct! How dare she be… correct? What is your problem in reading that?”

    She is just as much correct as I was when I pointed out in an earlier blog post comment that 17 out of the 18 panelists which released the women in science report were women.

    “She does not have to mention the scientists (especially since they _weren’t chosen yet_.) She isn’t talking about their merits. That’s a different discussion.”

    Unfortunately that was what the question was.

    “And that is your problem in the whole. You want Zuska to hedge.”

    If for you being fair = hedging then so be it.

    You also said

    “The question was ‘Who’s gonna win?’ The answer is ‘A bunch of guys.’ Sarcastic, but _dead on correct_, and pointing towards the inequality. That. Was. The. Point.”

    Lets play this game again

    Q. How many panelists were on the panel which released the women in science report?
    A. 18

    Q. How many were women?
    A. 17.

    Effect: Sarcastic (which you have pointed out), but _dead on correct_, and pointing towards the inequality. That. Was. The. Point. (in case anybody accuses me of plagiarism, let me acknowledge that this statement was sourced from Mecha’s Oct 4, 2006, 12:51 PM comment)

    “She does not have to address your complaint in her original post. And yet, you still talk. And annoy.”

    So what do you suggest I should do? Shut Up and go sit in the corner?

    “And bring almost no light to the conversation,, with the exception of your comment about how Nobels may be more of a lifetime achievement award,…”

    Unfortunately I have yet to see that from you.

    “This isn’t a blog about Nobel Scientists. Go check the about box, it’ll tell you what this blog is about. (Hint: Inequality.)”

    This is more of a blog of “how-all-men-are-undeserving-bastards-who-screw-over-all-women”. This blog is about generalisations and demonizations rather then putting forward any constructive suggestions for how to make academia identity-neutral.

  15. #15 Greg
    October 5, 2006

    I still want to know why you are desperate for Zuska’s respect.

  16. #16 Mecha
    October 5, 2006

    *rubs his temples* Look, Venky. I’m going to try to make this short, because it’s clear that there’s no real communication going on here from me to you.

    1) You drag out your post about 17/18 of the people on the panel being female. Which nobody disputed. HOWEVER. The spin you put on it was that women were purposefully excluding the men. Furthermore, you did so in what was a _serious discussion_. This is called being dismissive. This was not (originally) a ‘serious discussion’. It was a momentary sarcastic observation. Different tone. Tone matters. (Note how I took issue with Zuska’s tone in that parenthetical part of that post.) Further, you did so to attempt to illustrate a small scale inequality, completely ignoring the large scale inequality that was the topic of the conversation. This is also being dismissive (and very commonly done to distract from major points.) Zuska is illustrating a large scale inequality right off the bat here (and there.) Big differences. I’m not even going into the Chad discussion, my earlier analysis stands. It addresses your points directly.

    2) She didn’t mention any specific scientists at all. She is, in fact, unable to address the ‘good science’ people did in the context of the discussion she had. She used the ellipses to draw it out in the manner of the crystal-ball gazing metaphor she was using in her writing. It’s flair. She made the point sarcastically because she wanted to. These are all reasonable choices for the point she was trying to make. Did she use the question not quite for the reason it was intended? Yes. Why? To make a previously unmade point. That is also a common way of trying to open a person’s eyes. Conceptual blockbusting, if you will.

    Let me repeat this agian. Nowhere did she say that no Nobel Scientist deserves their award if they’re a man. She said that men were doing good science in her reply to your original snark. Your entire line of protest is gone with that alone. The clarification you were looking for was given. This is likely why she hasn’t responded. There’s no point. In contrast, I am prone to engaging in hopeless discussions. This, however, has gone beyond my willingness to deal with.

    -Mecha

  17. #17 Zuska
    October 5, 2006

    Wow, I had NO idea that I had this much power to demean the Nobel Prize and its significance for the men who won it this year. I am feeling quite omnipotent at the moment, and I can tell you it’s a spiffy feeling!

    I’m feelin’ so powerful, and so sorry for Venky who is so clearly unable to understand Mecha no matter how painstakingly Mecha explains things, that I am going to do him two little favors. One is, I will quote my own first comment just for Venky:

    Clearly the dudes who are winning have done some spiffy science. Nobody can say they didn’t.

    Since I am so very powerful, I feel certain that just quoting myself on that line has restored some dignity to the Nobels this year.

    Second, I am going to repeat my original post just for Venky, only in a way he may find more palatable, by prefacing it with a quote from my post A Helpful Guide to Knowing Your Place. The quote is Jill’s “recommended preface to avoid being pegged as angry and hysterical”. So, here we go:

    “I think y’all are SO awesome, and I totally love what you do and you’re all so talented and fantastic and I’m totally not trying to insult anyone here, but don’t you think it’s a little strange that there aren’t any women [winning these prizes]? But I mean you all are [incredibly great scientists] so really, don’t worry about it, it’s cool, I’m just saying…”

    From the Ask a Science Blogger feature…The 2006 Nobel Laureates will be announced on Monday, October 2. Any early guesses as to who this year’s honorees will be?…

    I’m thinking…I’m thinking…yes, it’s coming to me…the winners will be…

    A bunch of guys.

    There, Venky, did that make it all better?

    Sincerely,
    Zuska
    Goddess of Science
    Empress of Engineering
    Avenging Angel of Angry Women
    Demeaner of Nobel Prize Winners the World Over Since 2006

  18. #18 E. Powers
    October 5, 2006

    At the risk of committing a faux pax, i would like to repeat my comment because it got buried before it even got posted. It goes like this:

    Geez, we are in need of some constructive dialouge here not finger pointing and ad hominem attacks. Venky just stepped into a trap set by Zuska. Really, when i read her post I was like “Yeah, and your point?”. Well, according to her comment she really didn’t have a point, she was just making an “observation”. However, when trying to read between the lines to discover a point, one logical conclusion would be that Zuska thinks that the Nobel awards are biased against women. Actually, the only category for this post IS: “Sexual discrimination”.

    Now maybe there is a point, Zuska, other than just the observation. I appreciate your take on the sexual lopsidedness in the sciences. I think you always have great points and are right on. However, you do occasionally do the bait-and-hook, with antagonistic posts, followed by clear, concise points in your comments, followed by “why so defensive?” remarks at other commenters.

    Maybe its to get the attention of potential web surfers. It sure got mine, and I believe I am more enlightened after reading her posts (however it always helps to scroll through the comments).

    But lighten up. I dont think Venky is a feminist hater.

  19. #19 Mecha
    October 5, 2006

    It is possible to see more than one thread of conversation at one time, you know, E. ;)

    I don’t really want to get in a sub-argument about this, but realize that “This is a blog about ‘how-all-men-are-undeserving-bastards-who-screw-over-all-women'” iis Venky’s official position. It is particularly hard to ‘lighten up’ against that. It’s a dogmatic anti-feminist approach, common when people confuse ‘the patriarchy’ with other things.

    Venky got his response which cleared things up, and persisisted in pressing the directly refuted point, as well as perpetuating many stereotypes and confusing patriarchy blaming with man-hating (it’s a subtle distinction, sometimes, I know.) As such, your ‘lighten up’ statement falls… a little flat.

    -Mecha

  20. #20 shane
    October 6, 2006

    So Zuska, just to be clear, did your post mean to suggest:

    1. The structure of science is hostile to or biased against women, leading to an under-representation of women at its highest level. Eliminate this bias and more women would be awarded the Nobel Prize *in the future*.

    OR

    2. Women currently at science’s highest level are being discriminated against. Were it not for this bias, more women would have won Nobel Prizes *this year*.

    OR

    other?

  21. #21 Abel Pharmboy
    October 6, 2006

    Back on track, of sorts, bsci notes that a woman has not won in Chemistry or Physics since 1964. I’d argue that Gertrude (Trudy) Elion’s chemotherapy work that won for Physiology or Medicine in 1988 could’ve certainly been for Chemistry but, by then, the reduction in human suffering due to her discoveries (with Hitchings) were so numerous that it was impossible for her chemistry work not to be recognized by a Medicine prize. All this with a BS from NYU – she didn’t need no stinkin’ PhD! She noted in Brokaw’s, The Greatest Generation, that the loss of men to WWII efforts gave her the opportunity to get in with Hitchings, but she also cited Hitchings for recognizing that she simply had great laboratory skills, period…not that she was a man or woman.

    The late Elion remains one of my all-time scientific idols for her example in perseverence, intellect, humility, and dignity. We could use a helluva lot more men and women like her these days.

  22. #22 bsci
    October 6, 2006

    On Abel Pharmboy’s comment on Med vs. Chem Nobel’s, there is a relevant fact in a a very good NY Times article:
    Alfred Nobel and the Prize That Almost Didn’t Happen
    By Larwence Altman
    September 26, 200
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/26/health/26docs.html?ei=5070&en=0cfe8f752aad4313&ex=1160280000&pagewanted=all

    Different prizes are awarded by different organizations within Sweden: The Karolinska Institue awards medicine and the Swedish Academy of Sciences awards Chemistry and Physics. These organizations have distinct nomination processes and very separate people looking at the material. It’s possible that in the structure of the nomination and award system (or the people), there is a bias against women within the Swedish Academy, but not the Karolinska Institute.

  23. #23 JW Tan
    October 9, 2006

    bsci wrote:

    “And if you there science is bad, there is not a single women who has ever received a Nobel prize in economics.”

    This is probably because of the nature of the economics prize. It usually takes between 30-40 years for a particular contribution to be considered prize-worthy, and this year’s laureate, Ed Phelps, made his contribution in the 60s. Don’t forget that the economics prize was only awarded in 1969, and the Nobel Committee is still playing catch-up, by recognising a lot of (male) economists who deserve the prize.

    The only woman economist active in those days that I can think of who might have been considered Nobel-worthy was Joan Robinson. Unfortunately she passed away in the 80s, and the area where her contributions were Nobel-worthy was already recognised by awarding a prize to Arthur Lewis, who is considered more influential.

    Women will start to get it in about a decade or so. One of the pre-requisites for the economics Nobel is longevity, unfortunately.

  24. #24 Beth Montelone
    October 10, 2006

    18 of the 65 new members announced today by the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies) are women. See
    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10092006

  25. #25 Zuska
    October 10, 2006

    Well, I suppose 28% isn’t bad, in an area where it ought to be the easiest of all to reach equity. From the link Beth Montelone provided:

    An unusual diversity of talent is assured by the Institute’s charter, which stipulates that at least one-quarter of the membership be selected from outside the health professions, from such fields as the natural, social, and behavioral sciences, as well as law, administration, engineering, and the humanities.

    Given the overwhelmingly strong representation of women in the health professions, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities, you’d think we’d have hit 50%. But I guess just slightly over one-quarter is all we get.

    And yes, I’m never satisfied. Not until we’ve achieved an equitable universe. Not just gender equity either; I want the whole shebang – race, class, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, whatever else you can think of to throw in the pot.

  26. #26 JW Tan
    October 11, 2006

    Why do you assume that equality of opportunity will result in equality of representation?

  27. #27 Zuska
    October 11, 2006

    1. Absent barriers to keep them out, I assume that women will be as equally interested in science and engineering as men are, since these are human pursuits, and not gender-linked traits.
    2. Absent gender-sterotyping to turn them away from their natural interest in science and engineering, I expect larger numbers of women to follow their natural curiosity and pursue careers in science and engineering.
    3. Absent gender-stereotyping and gender-policing of male behavior, I assume that some men who now feel constrained otherwise, will choose to pursue careers they now feel closed out of (nursing, modelling, social work, any profession where females now predominate and salaries are correspondingly low. And I expect salaries in those professions to rise when men enter – as is always the case historically.) Thus, possibly, fewer men pursuing careers in science and engineering. Just a possibility.
    4. I assume that women are at least, on average, as capable as the average man, therefore I assume they are at least as capable, on average, of handling the schoolwork and professional training necessary to advance to professional positions in science and engineering.
    5. Out of this pool of men and women of equal across-the-board capabilities, with gender stereotyping and gender barriers to success removed, I assume that women and men would advance to positions of prominence in more or less equal numbers since advancement would not depend upon gender; thus one would not, as a scientist, expect to see a skewed distribution by gender unless some other factor were coming into play.

    To assume that equality of opportunity would NOT result in equality of representation – well, what are YOUR assumptions?

  28. #28 JW Tan
    October 12, 2006

    I don’t assume that equality of opportunity will NOT result in equality of representation. I don’t assume that it will either. It seems to me to be something that needs to be defended, not assumed away. And not only with respect to gender, but to ethnicity, age, etc. In essence you are assuming that all ages, genders, races, classes, whatever, evince not only an equivalent interest in science, but also place this interest in the same position in their list of priorities. That seems a very strong assumption to me.

    Having said that, your reasons seem sensible to me, although I am completely unfamiliar with the world of US science academia.

  29. #29 PhysioProf
    October 14, 2006

    “I don’t assume that equality of opportunity will NOT result in equality of representation. I don’t assume that it will either. It seems to me to be something that needs to be defended, not assumed away.”

    It doesn’t need to be defended; it needs to be tested by doing all we can to ensure genuine equality of opportunity.

  30. #30 brain
    January 26, 2007

    I still want to know why you are desperate for Zuskas respect.

  31. #31 marco polo
    January 26, 2007

    It demeans them because for you they won because they are white men and not because of anything significant that they have contributed to the advancement of human knowledge.

    In fact you imply that there are other people who have done better research but have not won since they are not ‘white men.’

  32. #32 ask me
    January 26, 2007

    Why do you assume that equality of opportunity
    will result in equality of representation ?

  33. #33 peter arkovic
    January 26, 2007

    18 of the 65 new members announced today by the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academies) are women. See

  34. #34 oktay sinanoglu
    January 27, 2007

    So Zuska, just to be clear, did your post mean to suggest:

    1. The structure of science is hostile to or biased against women, leading to an under-representation of women at its highest level. Eliminate this bias and more women would be awarded the Nobel Prize *in the future*.

    OR

    2. Women currently at science’s highest level are being discriminated against. Were it not for this bias, more women would have won Nobel Prizes *this year*.

    OR

    other?

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.